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Library offers help with your electronic devices

By Ken Johnston

Do you struggle with operating electronic devices like computers? Well the Rainy River Public Library has help for you!
For years the library has offered the CAP program (Community Access Program). However, that program has been renamed YI@CASS program (Youth Intern at Community Access Site). Rainy River Library recently hired Sarah Mitchell as its intern for YI@CASS.
The program offers one on one help for people of all ages struggling to use their electronic devices. Librarian and CEO Michael Dawber said that when the CAP program back in the late 1990s he himself sought help with his computer skills. “So much has changed since then. Wireless technology was just a fantasy!” Back then there was funding for the library to purchase computers and to hire a person to help users. “Now it seems everyone has a (wireless) device and they often bring in their own lap-tops, etc.”
Dawber said that no need is out of reach. “It can be something simple from learning how to turn on and use their computer to learning how to get more from a piece of software.”
The library offers free wireless access to the internet (wifi) and is also a registered provider of services (free of charge).
Mitchell has several university degrees and is doing her Masters at present. “Her computer experiences have been part and parcel to her skill set for this job.” And there seems to be no lack of demand for her help. She is working two days per week. Usually a Saturday and one other day throughout the week and appointments fill up fast!
Dawber said that people can book appointments on the library’s website ( or on Facebook. For those who are not comfortable using their computer or the internet they can call the library at 852-3375.
Other devices have also been brought in my people. They include e-readers and digital cameras. The library offers digital titles that people can sign out with their e-readers. “Cameras offer files that are so integrated with so many other devices like downloading to the internet or a computer,” said Dawber. “We do our best to help with them all with training being customized for one person at a time.”
That is another point that Dawber wants people to realize. “You do not have to take a class with a group of people or sign up for any length of time. You might just need one session with Sarah or several. But it is all one on one training.”
Not that many years ago libraries were mostly paper books with little digital offerings. Now the Rainy River Library offers digital titles, access to CPIQ (Canadian Periodical Index), Tumblebook (Animated kids books),, plus much much more. Dawber said that the circulation at the library keeps growing in the digital realm. “This year about 9% of our circulation is via ebooks or downloads.”
Dawber noted that they even offer special workshops to help with the growing digital demand. On Nov. 23rd they will be holding one on “I have two spaces left and hope we fill it up,” said Dawber.
Mitchell will be on staff until March of next year. The library can reapply each year for funding for an intern. However, the government cancelled the funding portion for equipment last year. Dawber said that the computers they have are still good. Once they are outdated they will have to see what the government does. But he noted many people are bringing in their own devices.
For now they keep moving forward with an intern. “We are thrilled to have Sarah here to do the training and we encourage anyone needing help to take advantage of her services.” said Dawber.